This edition of People You Should Know features Thurston Hatcher, one of my old clients from Rush University Medical Center. Currently the Web managing editor and social media manager at Rush, Thurston has helped Rush forge ahead with online communications.
Thanks Thurston and congrats on completing the Chicago Marathon!
Any hospital that integrates social media into their communications efforts inevitably faces resource barriers as efforts scale. How are resources at Rush balanced to manage your social strategy?
We certainly don’t spend vast sums on our social media efforts. It’s just one component of our overall marketing strategy, and of my job. I devote about an hour a day to social media, our Media Relations team maintains the Rush News Blog, and others in our marketing department help with video production along with writing and rounding up blog contributions. Plus we have smart consultants who help us keep on top of the ever-changing social media landscape. But overall it’s a relatively small line item in our budget.
Obviously many hospitals have either A) realized the value of integrating online engagement or B) are at least willing to test the social waters. What would be your advice to a hospital that is still teetering with making the leap into utilizing social media?
What’s holding you back? People are already out there talking about you, and if nothing else you ought to be listening to what they’re saying and, even better, interacting with them. It’s not that hard, and as I already noted, it’s neither forbiddingly expensive nor time-consuming. And it’s a simple way to become your own mini-media outlet and draw attention to the compelling stories coming out of your hospital.
Between Tweets, video, blog posts, status updates…what type of content do you see resonating best with your audience?
Compelling stories by and about staff and patients seem to generate the most attention. But tweets about research findings at Rush, along with exciting or occasionally offbeat health news in other publications tend to generate a fair number of clicks and retweets. On Facebook, I sense the most interest coming from people who either work, study or have been treated at Rush – and they love photos, particularly historic images from the archives and new ones showing progress on our new hospital buildings.
The Big Kahuna. R.O.I. What’s been the #1 metric for Rush to look at as a strong investment of resources in social media?
ROI is particularly tough to gauge with social media, not unlike, say, advertising or PR. Fortunately, we don’t feel a huge amount of pressure to attach dollar values to each and every tweet and Facebook post. We do pay attention to the metrics, though, and we feel we’re doing our job if we’re continuing to build an audience, connecting with patients and the community, and spreading the word about the great work going on at Rush.